Why Seattle Seahawks have essentially the most unsigned 2022 draft picks within the NFL

The fireworks of the Fourth of July celebrations are in the rear view mirror, and just three weeks remain until training camp begins for the Seattle Seahawks. With so much change over the course of the 2022 offseason, fans are set to see a team that has been completely revamped since the curtain came down on the Week 18 victory over the Arizona Cardinals that closed out the 2021 season.

The new names the fans are excited to see perform for the team this season obviously include the nine draft players the team added to the roster during the draft in April. However, even with training camp quickly approaching, the Seahawks are at the bottom of the pack when it comes to signing their draft picks.

Here’s the latest team-by-team look at 2022 draft pick signings. 19 teams have signed all of their draft selections. pic.twitter.com/Z1ZOnlUC8z

— Miguel Benzan Cap Space Equals 359,634 (@patscap) July 2, 2022

At first glance, it might be concerning that the Hawks are tied with the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens for the most unsigned draft picks with three, and that they have the highest percentage of unsigned draftees of any team in the league. However, it should not be a reason for concern, as there is a very valid reason behind why this is the case.

Or, perhaps it would be better said to state that there is an understandable, rather than valid reason. In any case, however one wishes to word it, the reality is the Houston Texans managed to mess up negotiations for every team at the top of the second round.

Specifically, one of the biggest advantages for teams drafting at the top of the second round over the bottom of the first is the difference not just in the size of contracts players receive, but in the amount of guaranteed salary over the life their contract. Base salary guarantees are one of the few items in rookie contracts which are open to negotiation, and in particular is likely one of the sticking points in negotiations when it comes to both Kenneth Walker III and Boye Mafe.

Jumping right to the heart of the matter, in the 2021 draft the players taken at 2.40 and 2.41 overall, along with the percent of third year base salary which was fully guaranteed at signing were:

  • 2.40: Richie Grant, S, Atlanta Falcons – 0% of third year base salary guaranteed
  • 2.41: Levi Unwuzurike, iDL, Detroit Lions – 0% of third year base salary guaranteed

So, the logical outlook for the Seahawks to draw in the wake of selecting Mafe and Walker at 2.40 and 2.41 would have been to expect to sign each of those players to contracts which had none of the base salary for the 2024 season fully guaranteed. That’s where the Texans threw a wrench in things. Houston drafted Jalen Pitre out of Baylor at 37 overall, just three picks before the Hawks selected back to back.

To understand how the Texans ruined it for everyone who picked at the top of the second round this year, here is a look at the players taken in that spot since 2018, along with the percent of third year salary fully guaranteed for each:

  • 2018 (2.37): Braden Smith, Indianapolis Colts, 0% of third year base salary guaranteed
  • 2019 (2.37): Greg Little, Carolina Panthers, 8.4% of third year base salary guaranteed
  • 2020 (2.37): Kyle Dugger, New England Patriots, 25% of third year base salary guaranteed
  • 2021 (2.37): Landon Dickerson, Philadelphia Eagles, 40.7% of third year base salary guaranteed
  • 2022 (2.37): Jalen Pitre, Houston Texans, 100% of third year base salary guaranteed

It’s obvious that the contract signed between Pitre and the Texans did not fall in line with past signings for players in that range of the draft, and that helps explain why of the 24 players selected in the 2022 who remain unsigned, 13 of them were taken in the second round. That’s more than half, and the majority of those who remain unsigned are those who heard their names called in the top half of the second round. So, while it would certainly be nice for the Seahawks to have all of their 2022 picks under contract, it’s all but certain that happens prior to training camp opening.

As for what the holdup with Coby Bryant could be, there could be any of a number of reasons why he has yet to ink his contract. Taxes would be a likely guess, as under Ohio tax law, income earned in any state by an Ohio resident is subject to Ohio income taxes. Thus, say Bryant were to sign his rookie contract with a signing bonus of $950,976 as projected for his draft spot by OverTheCap.com.

If he signs the contract and earns the signing bonus prior to becoming a resident of Washington, the income tax owed to Ohio on the full amount of the signing bonus would be more than $45,000. That’s certainly not an amount on which Bryant could retire, but it’s certainly an amount that isn’t worth sneezing at. Thus, by simply waiting to sign his contract until right before training camp after having established himself as a Washington resident he can avoid tens of thousands in tax obligations. Obviously, there could also be any of a number of other items at play, but at this point it’s likely not something fans need to worry about.

As long as there aren’t any cryptic tweets sent out by these three after deciding to spend some of their rookie contract money on an ATV.

Just wanna thank the lord that I’m still here

— Malik McDowell (@MSU_LEEK4) July 17, 2017